Port d’Hiver Appreciates our Troops!

Veterans Day is coming up this month and the folks here at Port d’Hiver Bed and Breakfast want to say thank you to all of those brave folks who serve our country. We’ve had lots of guests the last year or so who have visited with us, either just before shipping out or right after returning home, and we are always humbled to hear their devotion and grateful that they chose to spend time with us. As a token of our appreciation, for 4 weeks beginning Sunday October 23, 2011, we’re giving away one complimentary night per week to a vet who served in Iraq or Afghanistan and one guest.

So far it’s going great! On week one, we were honored to have a visit from our first fun couple, Hugh and Lauren who stayed in the Windward Suite. The Windward Suite is one of our most romantic rooms with red walls and that big canopy bed. This weekend we have the classically beachy Indian River Room all ready for our second couple, Kevin and Sharon with plenty of activities for them to enjoy if they like such as the Third Annual Cocoa Beach Air Show, the Goo Goo Dolls in concert at the King Center and Absolute Blue live at Sand on the Beach right across the street. On week three, the Creole Room will be the relaxing setting for our third couple with its extra luxurious spa tub and cool cedar ceiling and finally, it’s back to the romantic Windward Suite again on week four.

Melbourne Beach Bed and Breakfast

While overall the response to our “Port d’Hiver Appreciates our Troops!” giveaway has been positive, we have had several emails from Veterans who felt excluded by this year’s offer. Yesterday we received this email from John L., a 22 year Vietnam Veteran, who asked, “Have you thought of doing something similar for Vietnam War veterans?”

In response, we want to say to all Veterans that we apologize if this year’s offer made you feel excluded in any way. We deeply appreciate your sacrifice and truly appreciate your devotion and bravery. Last year our free room offer was open to any veteran regardless of where or when time was served. This year we wanted to help those folks with the most immediate need.

If you visit “Better Way To Stay” you will find a large selection of inns who offer free rooms on 11/10/2011 to vets. This is strictly a voluntary effort and B&Bs are, by definition, small properties with innkeepers who have big hearts. They don’t have hundreds of rooms to offer like the large hotels, but I think among this list you will find a welcoming and warm place to spend a relaxing getaway. Best of luck and thanks for writing.

Freedom rocks!

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Pumpkin, the Vegetable of Love?

In the article, “Pumpkin Pie: Provocative or Just Tasty” the New York Times reports that researchers from the Chicago Smell and Test Treatment and Research Foundation measured responses to 30 odors and found that the smell of pumpkin mixed with lavender created the strongest response of romantic attraction in men, followed closely by doughnuts and black licorice.

In response, our quick witted kitchen assistants here at Port d’Hiver are furiously working on a new recipe featuring homemade pumpkin doughnuts drizzled with lavender icing and topped with a sprinkling of black licorice shavings. Who knows, this potentially delicious concoction may just be the cornerstone of a new “Port d’Hiver October Romance Package”!  We’ll let you know how they turn out.

“I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.” Willa Cather, My Antonia

“Each year, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is the most sincere. He’s gotta pick this one. He’s got to. I don’t see how a pumpkin patch can be more sincere than this one. You can look around and there’s not a sign of hypocrisy. Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see.” Linus, It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.

Melbourne Beach InnLemon Lavender Icing Recipe

  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon water or cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh Lavender buds to sprinkle on top of the icing
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon zest minced very finely or a drop of lemon extract.

Mix together all the above ingredients and decoratively drizzle over the cooled doughnuts.



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Annual Iceman’s Ball – Fall Festival

Hello, October! Melbourne Beach is the perfect place to be this time of year with surf contests, live music, local theater, great food, art festivals, Halloween parties, rocket launches and the oldest marathon in the State of Florida!

Just this week it seems that the leaves have become a little greener, the morning sun on the water extra sparkly and the sea air… well, it just smells so clean and beachy!

Melbourne Beach Bed and Breakfast

Then too, there‘s that special sense of October camaraderie in the air. The cheery triathletes ride by on their bikes with the sunrise behind them, as they get ready for the big Battle of the Bridges Race happening this Sunday. Neighbors are out walking their dogs and stopping to chat while the surfers are all catching those great October swells, and there seems to be an unusually large number of cute pregnant people wandering around this fall looking happy and full of life. In fact, last weekend all but one of the couples staying here at Port d’Hiver is expecting a baby this season. I’ve always thought that autumn babies were extra smart!

One of our favorite events is our very own Iceman’s Ball next weekend, Sunday, October 9th right here on Ocean Avenue. This fall festival is old-fashioned small town fun with family activities all day. Guests can take a short walk down to the river and join the festivities which begin at 9 a.m. with the Huck Finn Fishing Derby and end at 8:30 p.m. with dancing under the stars. This year promises to be extra fun with our Melbourne Beach Inn sponsoring a pedicab to ferry folks back and forth and the 4th Annual Crazy Bed Race starting at 4:00.

Melbourne Beach InnBest of all, the weather is great and you can walk from the inn and the Iceman’s Ball is free. Unless of course you are brave enough to enter that Crazy Bed Race, but we might be willing to pay to see that!

Here is a guide to the monthly average temperatures at our Melbourne Beach Bed and Breakfast:

MONTH       AV. HIGH       AV. LOW

January           72                  50

February         73                  51

March             77                   55

April                81                   61

May                85                    66

June               89                    71

July                 91                    72

August            90                    73

September      90                    73

October           83                   67

November       78                    60

December       73                    53

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Gluten free and delicious!

Looking for a decadent gluten free getaway? At Port d’Hiver Bed and Breakfast we have lots of friends whose diets require a little special finesse. Dairy sensitive? With all the great lactose free products out there, you’re easy! Vegetarian? Vegan? No big deal. But gluten free? Hmmm. How to make all of those yummy French Toasts, sweet muffins and birthday cakes turn out just as soft and delicious as ever?

Beach Front Florida B&BThe other day I read that about 6 percent of our population, or about 18 million people, have sensitivity to gluten and over the years it feels like we’ve tried that many different recipes looking for the perfect moist gluten free muffin! Sorghum flour, white rice flour, tapioca flour all work fairly well, but are inconsistent and more often than not muffins turn out crumbly, a little grainy or worse, doughy. Then one lovely afternoon in Barnes and Noble I found my new favorite book The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free by Anne Byrn.

I know, it sounds like cheating but seriously…it’s great! Brownies, muffins, cookies, bars, layer cakes, you name it and she’s got it. The idea is that instead of making your own flour base with a combination of sorghum, rice, tapioca flour, etcetera – you use gluten free cake mix from the grocery store as the base and usually a little instant pudding mix for moisture and texture then add in all kinds of other goodies to make your treat unique. For instance, “Kathy’s Cinnamon Breakfast Cake” recipe adds pecans, pure vanilla extract, eggs, cinnamon sugar and vanilla pudding mix, and makes the most delicious muffins. I used to separate the batter in half then add mashed brown bananas and chocolate chips to the rest so that we ended up with 6 cinnamon and 6 banana chocolate chip muffins for our guests (this also works great with the chocolate cake mix!) Then one day our non-gluten free teenage daughters happened by for a little “taste test” and now when I bake a batch we only end up with 6 muffins for our guests and the kids steal the rest!

But don’t worry, not all of our gluten free recipes come from Anne’s book. Here is one of our favorite gluten and lactose free French Toast recipes from our Favorite Recipes from Port d’Hiver cookbook:

sliced canned pears                                                            pinch of salt
1 cup raw cane sugar                                                         1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ cup water                                                                        ½ cup golden raisins
½ tsp. nutmeg                                                                     ¾ cup honey
1 ½ cups plus 2 tbl unsweetened soy milk                          3 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 cups 1” tapioca bread cubes                                            1/3 cup plus 2 tbl plain soy yogurt

Spray a 9” cake pan with cooking spray (Mazola Pure No-Stick cooking spray is gluten-free) and lay pear slices in the bottom. Set aside. Combine sugar, water and salt and heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and when the syrup is light brown, stir in 2 Tbl soy yogurt and allow to cook for 1 minute. Pour over pears and set aside. In a large bowl, combine bread, raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg. In small bowl, combine eggs, soymilk, remaining yogurt and honey, whisking until combined then gently toss in bread cubes. Pour mixture over pears. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees and with the foil on bake for about 55 minutes taking the foil off for the last 10 or so. Dish is done when it puffs and is golden brown, let cool for a few minutes then turn pan over in one swift motion onto a plate. Serve warm allowing the caramel sauce to drizzle down the sides. We like to top each slice with a couple red raspberries and a light sprinkling of powdered sugar just to make it extra pretty before serving at our Melbourne Beach Inn.

Extra tip: One of our favorite guest couples, Thomas and Julie, are gluten free, lactose free Vegans! For this recipe we use egg replacer instead of the real eggs and it still turns out great.  Our favorite is Ener-G Egg Replacer. It is gluten free!

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What’s your favorite book?

After breakfast this morning I was chatting with Michael and Sharon, a really nice couple from New York who are visiting Port d’Hiver Bed and Breakfast for the first time and staying in the Windward Suite. Having recently bought a new house, they were excited to tour the grounds and other guest rooms, talk about the design of our Melbourne Beach B&B and get inspiration for their new project. Cocoa Beach Bed & Breakfast

Our first stop after the dining room, is the garden courtyard just outside. The ground under our feet is covered in old Chicago bricks and red petals from the giant bougainvillea that looks over the garden. In the corner is the rocky old fountain made of coquina from the beach across the street and the remains of a stone overseer’s bench with woman’s face and winged body. But instead of a wooden seat, a cabbage palm grows, covered with the spiky arms and huge white flowers of a Night Blooming Cereus.

Cocoa Beach B&BAbove the garden is the New Orleans-like balcony of Dianne’s Room with its intricate scrollwork panels of vines and passionflowers, a deeply southern and meaningful image that has been used for centuries in European art and architecture.

As I look at the viney ironwork and discuss the courtyard with Michael and Sharon, I can’t help but think of the book A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes. In the early years, before the house became the Melbourne Beach Bed and Breakfast guests know today, the courtyard’s big bougainvillea and purple allamanda had twisted and grown together untamed for more than forty years so that you could not tell one from the next. Cocoa Beach Bed and BreakfastThey grew over the fence and around the porch rails and through the gaps in the house’s siding. As we took apart the bead board ceilings to update the old cloth wiring, inside we found vines and tendrils winding through the walls all the way to the second floor as though the house and plants were all one big organic structure growing up together from the ground. This, combined with all that we were learning about the Brown family and others who had lived in the house on Ocean Avenue throughout the years, made it seem as though the lines between inside and outside were blurring like Hughes’ dreamy depiction of 19th century British colonial island life: plantation, barefoot children, tabby cats,  jungle palms, southern sun and sea whipped and shaken and spun together into a beautiful wild adventure.

Cocoa Beach Bed and Breakfast“As they followed the lane toward the sea they came to a place where, yesterday, a fair sized spring had bubbled up by the roadside. Now it was dry. But even as they passed a kind of gout of water gushed forth: and then it was dry again, although gurgling inwardly to itself. But the cavalcade were hot, far too hot to speak to one another they sat their ponies as loosely as possible, longing for the sea.”

In addition to the historic photos of the Brown family that guests find hanging on the walls here at our Bed and Breakfast in Melbourne Beach, I’ve often thought of framing passages like the one above from A High Wind in Jamaica. But in the end I wasn’t sure if people would understand and find them beautiful or maybe just think we were a little strange.

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Why Melbourne Beach?

Have you ever wondered what Port d’Hiver means? It’s French for “Port of Winter” and Ella Belle Brown named the property in 1925. The main historic house at Port d’Hiver Bed and Breakfast is an important landmark for Melbourne Beach and is known as the “Walter Brown House” but in the past locals called it “The Pink House”.

Leaning against the window in the sunroom is a weathered plaque that we found in the house years ago. It says the Melbourne Beach Improvement Company originally sold “The Pink House” to Neffie S. Long, who then sold to Florence Peel in 1922. Around 1925, the house was bought by Walter Brown and his wife Ella Belle.

Melbourne Beach Bed and Breakfast

Ella Belle in the 20s

Ella Belle Brown went to school at the Sorbonne in Paris and she and Walter spoke French at home. They thought that Port d’Hiver would become their winter home, but soon fell in love with our little barrier island and moved in full time.

Sometimes people ask, why go to Melbourne Beach? Because they haven’t heard of it and it isn’t touristy. But we say that is exactly why they should come to Melbourne, Florida. It is a very cool little town with a unique history and natural beauty. Not only have many of the country’s professional surfers learned right here on our beaches, but Melbourne Beach is also the 2nd largest nesting colony of Loggerhead Turtles in the nation (Matt Damon did a little documentary type promo about it.)

In the morning, we watch the sunrise over the ocean before breakfast at our romantic Florida getaway, and in the evening, after wine hour, our guests wander down for dinner at Djon’s Steak and Lobster House and to watch the beautiful sunsets on the Indian River.

So the answer is, go north for the “spring break” experience, stay at our Melbourne Beach Bed and Breakfast for a real, natural, adult experience. Port d’Hiver is an island within an island. Once inside…with the pool, fountains, tropical plants, friendly people, good food and music…we all get that same feeling that made Walter and Ella Belle Brown decide stay all those years ago. Melbourne Beach is just special, it settles in, becomes a part of you and soon you find that you don’t need to go anywhere else.

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Beach Renourishment in Progress

The beach across the street is currently undergoing a renourishment effort to replenish sand washed away by storms and natural erosion. The beach is still open during this effort…only about 100 yard stretches are closed for a day or so at a time. This happens once every 6-7 years as part of a fifty year long federal government project.

This photo shows my favorite part of this process. That large tripod thing is actually a vehicle with three large tires. Somebody climbs a ladder to the top and drives this along the beach and out several hundred yards into the ocean to move sections of pipe. I’ve asked the family for one for Christmas. I think it would be fun to drive the kids to school up the river!

I’ve copied some information below from this website that shows how the process works: http://www.brevardcounty.us/environmental_management/bbbb_nsrp_process.cfm

Hopper Dredges

Hopper dredges move slowly over the borrow area (in this case, Canaveral Shoals) pulling two drag arms that suck sand from the ocean floor and temporarily store it in the ship’s hull—the “hopper.” When full, the ship sets course to the beach construction area, hooks to a pipe running ashore, and then pumps the sand from its hopper to the beach.

Pipeline on the Beach

During construction, a pipeline ran from offshore to a landing point on the beach. Hopper dredges pumped their cargos of sand through the pipeline to widen the beach at the landing point. Beach renourishment then proceeded to the north or south of the landing point by adding lengths of pipe along the beach.

Eventually, the direction of renourishment would be “flipped” from north to south or south to north, while the landing pipeline itself remained stationary. It would then be detached and relocated to the next landing point. During this process, temporary sand ramps were maintained over the pipeline at regular intervals to provide safe public access to the ocean and newly widened beach.

Crews worked around the clock, producing noise from engines and safety backup alarms, and using lights from dusk until dawn. The small, active construction area affected by the sounds and lights typically progressed past individual properties in 48 hours or less. On average, the construction progressed over 500 feet per day along the beach. Safety backup alarms were exempt from all local noise ordinances.

As the project progressed, bulldozers, front-end loaders, and other necessary construction equipment could be seen engaged in the creation of a smooth, wide beach using the new sand as it is was pumped ashore.

The new beach sand was discharged onto the beach through the pipeline in a powerful jet of water.

The area immediately surrounding the open, working end of the pipeline was closed for public safety while construction was underway. It was important to stay well clear of this operation. The off-limits area moved an average of 500 feet per day and a maximum of 1200 feet per day as the project progressed along the beach. Safety officers were posted to guard this area at all times.


Beach width increases as sand is added to the shoreline. As time passes, waves and currents shift some of the newly-added sand from the extra-wide beach to sand bars in the surf zone. This process is known as “equilibration.” Eventually, about 2/3 of the new material will be underwater, supporting the wider dry beach much as a foundation supports a house. Sand bars migrate onto the beach during the summer, increasing beach width, only to return offshore as a result of winter storm erosion. This fluctuation is a natural beach process restored by the renourishment project. Since this is a 50 year project, the beach will continue to be renourished every 6 years or as needed. This renourishment interval will be determined by the frequency and severity of storms that impact Brevard County over the 50 years.

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Flights Into Melbourne Airport

The Melbourne Airport has recently added some new flights. You can now fly round trip to Melbourne (MLB) four times daily from Atlanta (ATL) on Delta, three times daily from Charlotte (CLT) on USAir, and twice weekly from Niagra Falls, NY (IAG) and Punta Gorda, FL (PGD) on Direct Air. Port d’Hiver is a short ten minute cab ride from the airport and you can walk to restaurants and several stores. Makes an easy, romantic beach getaway.

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Triathlon in Melbourne Beach in June

The popular Rotary Pineapple Man Triathlon that takes place just down the street on Sunday, June 6th, is filling up fast. They cap participation at 500 and already have 370 applicants. Linda will do a Triathletes breakfast before the race and we’ll save a full breakfast for when you get back. Check it out here: http://rotarypineappleman.org/

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Honeymoon Packages

Love is in the air! Check out our new honeymoon packages: candlelight, mimosas, picnic lunch for two and more…

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© Port d’Hiver Bed and Breakfast by Michael Rydson